A fortnight ago, I disrupted my Sunday evening writing routine to celebrate one of my very favourite authors, Chimamada Ngozi Adiche. She, deservedly, won the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s Winner of Winners Prize for her stunning novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, and gave a live interview, from Lagos, to thousands of admirers via Zoom.
On top of the glorious readings of some of her passages, and her captivating descriptions of Nigeria, where her inspiration, research, and personal experiences come from, I was touched by some of the other messages she had for us.
Female relationships, were a special element to Chimamanda’s interview and this is what I would like to reflect on for this week’s blog.
I am a proud feminist. I always have been. Educated at an all girls school, proud Director of Marketing for an incredible all girls school by day, mother to an eight year old daughter, daughter and grand-daughter to strong and inspiring women….I have always felt at home with determined, fearless women. I treasure relationships with many inspirational role models – friends, family and colleagues . Tonight, I’m going to take the time to reflect on some of the wisdom Chimamada shared with us, and on what they mean to me.
Chimamanda championed the power of platonic relationships. It made me think about my friends, old and new, and how they really are my champions and my heroes. There’s something humbling about knowing that someone wants the very best for you. And feeling the joy of others celebrating your achievements is pure gold. My friends constantly push me on and build me up. They make me laugh in a way that diffuses anxiety in a heartbeat. (There’s no doubt life is better when you don’t take yourself too seriously). I’m so grateful to have them.
Chimamanda also spoke about fear of feminism. Women with voices, particularly women of colour, are often stereotyped in society. Angry. Feisty. Aggressive. Similarly, gay women are often villainised for speaking up. Scary. Intimidating….. the list goes on. Probably a lot of you reading this blog are feminists, so I’m aware of speaking into an echo chamber here. We all know that feminism is about equality. It’s about strength and belief in what’s right. It’s about not being intimidated by others’ expectations. About supporting yourself and other women.
There were thousands of women watching Chimamanda’s live interview, including many incredible female authors. They applauded louder than anyone. Chimamanda’s success was their success and we all felt the richer for spending the evening with her and each other.
During the course of this crazy year, I’ve been on a journey myself. Learning and speaking out about racism has been an incredible experience so far, especially because of some very special people I’ve met.
As I’ve reached out to learn more, I’ve met some inspirational activists, writers, colleagues, bloggers, educationalists. You know who you are ladies. Thank you enriching my life in 2020. 2021 is going to be even richer because we’re in it together.
Thank you too to my friends who’ve known me forever, and everyone in between. We’ve all got each other’s backs, we all “get it” and we will always find laughter along the way too.